Since the last time I’ve written, so many things have happened in my life and throughout the world. Isn’t that always the case? Life is never stagnate. That can be a good thing and it can be a scary thing … Continue reading
This has been an odd weather week in San Diego. And, yes, “odd weather week” is a very rare description for this part of the country. I still find it amusing when the weather forecasters tell us to buckle up for a major warm up. Usually that means we will go from 70 degrees to 73. What is truly pathetic is that I feel it, and I get annoyed with the “heat spell.” So whether you are in San Diego braving 73 degrees and some humidity blowing in from Cabo or you are in Cleveland, Ohio feeling a true summer warm up, you may want to avoid standing over or near your oven or stove. That is when the most easily loved appliance comes into play. I always thought of slow cooker meals being more for the winter season, but I’m loving it on these
hot warmer days. Another huge benefit, the ability to walk away! So even if you are home, no need to tend to the pot! This truly is an easy lover. I’m pretty sure Phil was referring to a slow cooker.
I have two recipes that I really loved making (and eating) this week. The first might not sound so “Summery” especially due to the pumpkin addition, but I love Fall, and I already miss it. Yes, we get Fall in San Diego. It goes from 70 to 68. Leaves fall to the ground! Stop judging me! The first recipe caught my eye in the San Diego Union Tribune which was adapted from Michele Corbett’s site, http://www.cookingonthefrontburners.com. I made a few changes, but if you would like to see the original recipe, please check out Michele’s website. The second recipe is from Martha Stewart’s site, but I’ve made a couple of changes to the original recipe. For the original recipe, check out: http://www.marthastewart.com/341733/slow-cooker-greek-stuffed-peppers.
Meaty (or Not) Pumpkin Chili
16 oz ground sirloin (or ground turkey, or ground chicken, or tempeh, or tofu – You get the idea.)
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil, if needed
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 chopped yellow, red, or orange pepper
3 cloves minced garlic
2 cups crushed tomatoes
4 ounces can diced green chilies
1 cup pumpkin pie filling (not puree)
1 cup chicken broth
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
15 oz can black beans rinsed and drained
Toppings – sour cream or Greek yogurt
- Brown the ground sirloin in a Dutch oven (or similar pot). Drain most of the fat. Add the onion, celery, pepper and garlic, and sauté for 5 minutes. You can add a bit of grapeseed oil if the ingredients start to stick to the bottom of the pot. *If you opt to go the vegetarian route, simply add the tempeh or tofu after the vegetables have sautéed, and continue sautéing until heated throughout.
- Add tomatoes and chilies and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add pumpkin, broth, seasonings, and beans. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Serve with sour cream or yogurt.
Slow-Cooker Greek Stuffed Peppers
5 large bell peppers
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup crumbled feta (4 ounces)
1/2 cup quinoa (*You can really use any type of grain. Just don’t pre-cook the grain. Add it to the mix uncooked.)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 garlic clove, minced
1-2 teaspoon dried oregano
Spoonful of Sambal Oelek (*This really is to taste. I like food with a kick, so I put in a good amount. You can skip it all together if you prefer your meals on the mild side.)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper (*Make sure to go easy on the salt since feta is salty.)
Chicken stock or water, about 1/2 cup (*This is added to the bottom of the slow cooker to ensure the peppers do not stick. You just need enough liquid to coat the bottom, then the peppers are placed in the liquid upright.)
Lemon wedges, for serving
- Slice a very thin layer from the base of each bell pepper so they sit flat. Slice off tops just below stem. Discard stems; chop tops, and place in a medium bowl. Remove ribs and seeds from peppers.
- Add beans, feta, quinoa, scallions, garlic, oregano, and sambal oelek to bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Stuff peppers with bean mixture; place upright in slow cooker. I opted to add a 1/2 a cup of chicken stock to the bottom of the slow cooker just to ensure the peppers wouldn’t stick. Cover; cook on high, 4 hours.
- Serve with lemon wedges.
On another note, I purchased Organic Edamame Spaghetti at Costco last week. The only ingredients are water and edamame. I had to give it a try. The box has two recipes listed, both of which are very high in fat content. I opted to simply cook the spaghetti and serve it with a mushroom tomato sauce topped with Parmesan. I’m glad I tried it, but I will not buy it again. The flavor was not remarkable, but what really got me was the texture. It was spongy. I am left with a lot of the stuff, so I will use it, but I will stick to eating edamame the old-fashioned way – from the pod!
I hope everyone has a great week, and you can rest assured I will be fixated on the Cleveland Cavaliers capturing the NBA Finals trophy! Go Cavs! #allin
Take Care and Happy Eating!
Every week I compile recipes and ideas so that I have a guide, a dinner road map, if you will. Also, I try to create dinners that can turn into lunch for me throughout the week. Last week I got a little sidelined. We had a friend in town, which is always a great thing, and then I got sick, which is always a horrible thing. I take getting sick to a new level. When I get sick, I am down and out for the count. Here is what I made last week before I got sick. My recipe makes about 4 servings, and I love this because it’s so easy to throw a couple in the microwave during the week for a quick-lunch or dinner. The original recipe is from Food and Wine, http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/stuffed-peppers-with-thai-curry-rice-and-mushrooms. I made some changes based on my likes. In the original recipe, it directs one to steam the peppers. In recipes like this, I prefer my peppers to not be soft. If you prefer softer peppers, see the original recipe.
Stuffed Peppers with Thai Curry Farro and Mushrooms
6 large red bell peppers, halved with cores and stems removed
2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
2 medium shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup farro
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste (NOT red curry sauce)
1 tablespoon of sambak olek (if you like more or less heat, adjust accordingly)
1 pound mushrooms, chopped (any kind you like works in this recipe)
4 cups spinach
1/4 cup basil, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook farro according to the directions on the bag, but replace the liquid with unsweetened coconut milk and chicken stock. Once farro is cooked, remove from heat and set aside.
- In a stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic, and continue stirring until they soften, and do not let them become too browned. Add ginger, red curry paste, and sambak olek, and stir for about a minute just for the flavors to blend. Add the chopped mushrooms and stir a few times until the mushrooms soften, approximately 5 minutes. Once the mushrooms have softened, add the spinach and stir until the spinach has wilted. This will happen quickly, so keep an eye on it.
- Remove the mushroom-spinach mixture from the heat and add the farro, basil, salt and pepper. Stir until combined, and fill each red pepper half with the mixture.
- Place peppers in a baking dish that is lined with parchment (I love using parchment whenever I can. It ensures there is no sticking, and makes cleaning even easier.). Cover with foil or place a cover over the dish, and bake in the oven for approximately 40-45 minutes.
The recipes for this week in the Kopp household include:
- Crazy Monday night!!! We never eat out on a Monday! Franz had the night off, so we decided to finally go to Steak Night at Small Bar (http://smallbarsd.com/). This was so exciting! It starts at 5pm on Mondays. You get a 3/4 pound rib eye steak, potatoes roasted in duck fat, a side salad with blue cheese dressing, and a pint of beer for $15!!! It was so tasty and so inexpensive! I highly recommend it! Once they sell out, they are out!
- Roasted Cauliflower with Cranberries (http://www.bhg.com/recipe/roasted-cauliflower-with-cranberries/): I always have leftover fresh cranberries in my freezer from the Holidays. I LOVE this recipe!! This could easily be served with a pork tenderloin, sautéed chicken breasts, or even thrown in a bowl of whole wheat pasta for a vegetarian option.
- Cream of Parsnip Soup (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/cream-parsnip-soup *** See my notes!): I have been making this recipe since 2007. Whenever I eat parsnips, I immediately think about my husband’s grandfather. We would eat parsnips from his garden way back when Franz and I were dating. It was the first time I had ever tried one, and I have been hooked ever since. He was a very wise man. ***In this recipe, I remove the butter and just use olive oil or grapeseed oil. I cut back on the amount of onion, and I use only about half of a large onion. The recipe calls for 3 1/2 cups parsnip. That’s hard to eye-ball, so I always go with about a pound of parsnips (I usually go a little over considering the stems and peels are discarded.). Lastly, I remove the half-and-half from the recipe. It is not needed. If you want it, you could even do less than the recommended amount.
- I have a big container or spinach that I need to use, so one night will be sautéed chicken breasts with sautéed spinach, mushrooms, and sweet onions.
I hope you give these recipes a try, and if you live around the San Diego area, try out Steak Night at Small Bar! Have a great week, and enjoy the Holiday weekend!
Take Care and Happy Eating!
We are well into 2015, and I finally got a chance to mentally take in the gifts I received over Christmas. So much is going on in my family, and in everyone’s family, over the month of December: traveling from one coast to another, traveling from one house to another, eating at, possibly, every new spot in Cleveland, Ohio, buying and giving gifts, sending and getting Holiday cards, carting Monsieur all over the country (kind of), dealing with a stolen wallet (fortunately that doesn’t happen every December), and the million other things that make up the busiest time of the year. It seems that with so many things going on, it’s easy to miss out on the things going on around us.
One of the gifts I received was Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2013 from my mother-in-law. I love these annual cookbooks. I get to pull out the old magazines I’ve been saving and transfer any notes of mine from the magazines to the cookbook, and then send the magazines off to a good home. It makes me feel so organized.
The note from the editor, Scott Mowbray, caught my eye from the October 2012 publication. “Sign of a food-centered family: During one meal, they talk about what the next meal will be.” Hmmm. This idea was brought up while he was interviewing Chef Ming Tsai. Chef Ming explains how important food was to his family, and his Dad would always take photos of the food they shared. Ahead of his time, right? Mowbray notes that we, hopefully, eat about 82,000 meal throughout our lives, and we should remember them. I would add to that point that we should respect them as well because meals are more than a plate of food in front of us. Think about a family meal – it indicates we are healthy enough to enjoy a meal, we have money in order to purchase what is in front of us, and we have loved ones surrounding us. Now being food-centered can turn a little crazy quickly, and we’ve all been there, too. For example, I’m sitting with my family at a restaurant for lunch and we start talking about what we will eat for dinner, or I’m out to dinner with friends and I start discussing lunch options for the following day with my husband. There is a fine line between enjoying a moment and taking it in and rushing through a moment in order to get to the next moment. I hope I take the time with each eating event, and I will be more mindful that I do so in the future. But this does not mean I will stop thinking or discussing the next meal! Again, it’s that fine balance between appreciating and anticipating. I think it can be done in a healthy way.
But this editorial note got me thinking: Is everyone like me, Chef Ming, and the Cooking Light editor? Does everyone think about the next meal while they are still seated at a table? Is this common? Of course I love cooking and eating, so every meal is usually an adventure for me. Why wouldn’t I look forward to the next one? And if you are reading this, you probably feel the same way about food. I would love to hear your thoughts on this one!
And in the spirit of thinking about the next meal, I’m listing the meals I made, and will make, this week for dinner. I’ve added the links so that you can easily access the recipe if you so desire.
Nutty Vegetable Sauté (http://www.meatlessmonday.com/recipes/nutty-vegetable-saute/) This was made over the weekend, but the leftovers have carried into this week’s lunch and dinner menus. I love when that happens!
Spicy Lentil-Walnut Burgers (http://www.marthastewart.com/318248/spicy-lentil-walnut-burgers) served with Roasted Carrots. I was attempting to make a healthy “Burgers and Fries” meal for the viewing of The Ohio State v. Oregon football game. I served it with Chunky Olive Hummus from Trader Joe’s (YUM!) and Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Flat Bread.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars (http://www.marthastewart.com/1065205/peanut-butter-and-jelly-bars) These were made as a half-time treat during the football game. This was followed by one Stone Enjoy By IPA (http://enjoyby.stonebrewing.com/) to celebrate the victorious OSU!
Wild Mushroom Farro Risotto (Farrotto) (http://www.moreuncorked.com/!S0wXzFfbyV6LkYgba2nHpA!/Wild-Mushroom-Farro-Risotto-Farrotto) I omit the butter from this recipe and add more olive oil. I may add more than 2 ounces of goat cheese. Two ounces? HA!
Salad There is no recipe for this one. I usually make a salad most nights of the week. Occasionally the salad is the main course with a bunch of stuff in it, or I will make a simple one, like an arugula and red pepper salad. I grew up eating a salad with dinner most nights of the week, so I like the tradition – and it’s tasty!
Falafel-Stuffed Eggplant with Tahini Sauce and Tomato Relish (http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/falafel-stuffed-eggplant)
Again, let me know your thoughts regarding the “Food-Centered Family”! I’d love to hear from you!
Take Care and Happy Eating!
Once again, Melissa’s Produce (http://www.melissas.com/) put San Diego Food Bloggers’ to another mystery box challenge. From my FedEx delivered box of goodies, and I had to choose at least 3-4 items from Melissa’s and incorporate 1-2 other ingredients, dealer’s choice (or in this case, cook’s choice). I could have gone in a few different directions, however, I was leaving for a trip to NYC a few days after receiving the package, so I knew I would need to make something freezer-friendly.
Click here to see what other San Diego Food Bloggers’ created: An InLinkz Link-up
Burgers and Fries (. . . For the Health Conscious and Flavor Seeker)
- Olive Oil, 4 Tablespoons (You can use Canola or Grapeseed Oil, if you prefer.)
- Panko or breadcrumbs, 1 1/3 cup
- Pine Nuts, 1 cup
- Walnuts, 1 cup
- Shallots, 2, diced
- Cumin, 2 Tablespoons
- Coriander, 2 Tablespoons
- Pepper Flakes, 2 teaspoons (or more, if you like a little more heat)
- Salt, 1 teaspoon
- Ground Black Pepper, 1/2 teaspoon
- Dried Cranberries, 1 cup
- Blackeyed Peas, 11 ounces
- Garbanzo Beans, 9 ounces
- Eggs, 4, lightly whisked
- Combine Olive Oil through Ground Black Pepper in a food processor until fully combined.
- Add Blackeyed Peas, Garbanzo Beans, and dried Cranberries to Nut and Panko mix. (The amount of beans will equal about 3 cups. You can substitute any brand of canned Blackeyed Peas or Garbanzo Beans.) With the pulse setting, combine all of the ingredients until the desired consistency. If you prefer some full beans in your burgers, go for it – just stop when it looks combined. I made mine relatively smooth.
- Place mixture in a large bowl and add 4 eggs. If you prefer to use only half of the yolks for a “healthier” version, go for it! Make sure to lightly whisk the eggs before you add the burger mix. It’s just easier that way. Mix all of the ingredients together until they are fully combined.
- With your hands, form mixture into the shape of 10 burger patties.
- Add about a Tablespoon of olive oil skillet, and heat to medium-high. Once the oil is hot, add the burgers to the pan. Once they have browned, it will take about 5 minutes, flip and continue browning on the other side. Once they are browned, turn the heat to medium-low heat and cover pan with a lid or piece of foil, and continue cooking until they are fully cooked. This will take about 15 minutes. Another option, after browning, you can transfer the burger patties to a pre-heated oven (375 degree) for about 15 minutes. The benefit is that you don’t have to keep an eye on them so closely (so they don’t burn), and you can do many more at one time. (I had to freeze about half of what I made. Just make sure to cook them first, then freeze. Then you have lunch at your fingertips!)
Making the accompanying fries, couldn’t be easier. Melissa’s sent my a 3 pound bag of baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes, and my husband and I finished them in 2 days. Nobody ever said we can’t eat. I simply rinsed and dried the potatoes. I left the smaller spuds whole, and I halved or quartered the larger ones. I placed them in a mixing bowl, drizzled olive oil over them (about a Tablespoon), and sprinkled them with fresh ground pepper and some salt. This really is about what you like. I like a lot of pepper and not too much salt, so I would suggest eyeballing it. Just remember you can always add more after they have roasted, but you can’t take any away! I place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover them with foil, place in a 425 degree pre-heated oven, and wait until they have softened. Ovens can vary, so check them after about 20 minutes. Once they are soft, remove the foil cover and place them back into the oven. Roast until they are the golden color you prefer. Make sure to flip and move the potatoes around once while they are browning. This step will take about 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven.
Now, I can’t eat burgers and fries without ketchup, so I created a “Beanup”. All the hip restaurants opt out of the good old-fashioned stuff, so I am following suit!
- Fava Beans, 8.8 ounces
- White Kidney Beans, 15 ounce can, drained and rinsed
- Shallot, one small, finely chopped
- Tahini, 2 Tablespoons
- Garlic cloves, 2, finely chopped
- Salt and Ground Black Pepper, to taste
- Lemon Juice, 1 Tablespoon (or more if you like it tangy)
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor and combine until very smooth. That’s it!
I received the items from Melissa’s, but no other compensation was given and all opinions are of my own. Thanks must be given to Melissa’s Produce! This was so much fun, and I appreciated a free box of delicious food items deliver to my door just so I could play around with it! Tonight I am using the Butternut Squash in an Arugula and Feta Salad for dinner. I can’t wait. Look for my post next week about my annual trip to The Big Apple. Funny, I never did have an apple while I was there!
Take Care and Happy Eating!
I was walking around the other day in 86 degree weather looking for new Winter clothes to buy. What the what??? It started getting
warm hot sweltering back in May, and I don’t feel a cool down coming anytime soon! The only glimpse of Fall I’ve seen is around 6am when I get out of bed and the floors feel cold. Like my favorite TV personality says, “That ain’t right!!!!” I love Turko. When it’s that hot, it’s hard to get into the cooking mood. Fortunately, there are some great options for eating out!
Recently, I was invited to Whole Foods La Jolla to check out the new menu at their casual Restaurant & Bar, Torrey Pints. Having a night away from the kitchen sounded pretty good! There is a full bar where you can either belly up with a great beer tap list, grab a large tables for big groups, or pick a small table for individuals or smaller parties, or grab food for carry out. They have live music and it’s open to the grocery store, so it has a very energetic feeling. You can go to the website (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/lajolla) and find the events calendar to check on when musicians will be performing.
If you are in the mood for a movie night, I would recommend grabbing some appetizers and some drinks before heading over to La Jolla Village Cinemas (http://www.landmarktheatres.com/market/SanDiego/LaJollaVillageCinemas.htm). Entrées are served as well, but I felt like the vibe and menu lent itself more to smaller plates and beverages.
I must add that I was invited for a complimentary meal by Jennifer at Whole Foods, however my opinions are 100% my own.
If you aren’t in the mood to eat out, here is a recipe that works whether you live in a place that is 35 degrees or 86 degrees. I bought a Crock Pot about a year ago. Yep, it was the first one I’ve ever owned, and I ignore it. I don’t know why. When I use it, I love it. I need to use it more often.
Some Slow Cooker recipes are simply throwing ingredients into the cookware and letting it cook for several hours. This one requires a little prepping of the ingredients, but it is well worth the small amount of effort. The original recipe is from Cooking Light, but I’ve made a couple of changes. For the original recipe, go to: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-chickpea-tagine.
Chicken and Chickpea Stew
1 1/2 tablespoons Grapeseed oil
8 chicken thighs, skinned and deboned (about 1 pound or so)
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups chopped sweet onion
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cup unsalted chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1 cup chopped dried apricots
2 (15-ounce) cans organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle meaty side of chicken with black pepper. Add chicken to pan, meaty side down; cook 5 minutes or until well browned. Remove from pan (do not brown other side).
2. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Add cumin and next 5 ingredients (through red pepper); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 1 teaspoon salt, stock, honey, and cinnamon, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a simmer. Carefully pour mixture into a 6-quart electric slow cooker. Stir in apricots and chickpeas. Arrange chicken, browned side up, on top of chickpea mixture. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 hours. Discard cinnamon stick. Sprinkle with cilantro; serve with lemon wedges.
I served the stew with Freekeh. Freekeh has an almost tea-like flavor, and it is a great source of protein and fiber. You could serve this with anything, really, in order to soak up all of the flavor: farro, quinoa, or even mashed potatoes. Hope you enjoy this dish as much as Franz and I did! (FYI, I found uncooked Freekeh at Sprouts (https://www.sprouts.com/) in San Diego. I had a hard time locating it, but I’m sure it will become more popular soon!
Also, I just received a box of complimentary goodies from Melissa’s (http://www.melissas.com/). I’ve been put to another challenge to create a recipe! I will post my creation, along with other San Diego Bloggers’, on November 18th. Make sure to check it out!
Take Care and Happy Eating!
My last post discussed FINALLY going to places that have been on “the list”. You know, that list of restaurants you make that you intend to visit in the near future? The one that keeps growing? The one where Juniper and Ivy was added to it before it even opened in March, but have yet to go? (Side note, I do have reservations there in a couple of weeks – FINALLY! I briefly digress.) That list that continues to grow, but you find yourself, once again, at Pizza Port in OB ordering another delicious pie and a pint? Please tell me you do so that you make me feel better.
I try very hard not to be that way with the dinners I make at home, but there is a particular comfort in making a dish that you know what you need, the steps you need to take, and that it will turn out to be a delicious meal while you watch Brian Williams deliver the news in yet another stunning tie. We love Brian Williams in my house. I won’t say who loves him the most. So back to the dinner recipes! With the heat San Diego has been experiencing, it has been hard to think of new and refreshing meals. Grilling or sautéing chicken (because I don’t want to leave the air-conditioned comfort of my house) and serving it over a salad is getting SO played.
I fell in love with this recipe that was emailed to me by Food and Wine. The recipe online is not complete for some reason, so the one below has my changes and additions. If you would like to see the original recipe, go to http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/tomato-and-peach-salad-with-crisp-tofu. It is so refreshing, and you can easily play around with the ingredient list if there’s something you want to add or delete. I would really hesitate from deleting any items. I ended up not using all of the dressing that I had made, so dinner for the following night was already on my mind.
First Night: Tomato and Peach Salad with Crisp Tofu
- 2 Serrano chiles, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 2 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons canola oil or grape seed oil
- 24 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained well and cubed
- 2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
- 2 peaches, cut into wedges
- 2 cups arugula
- 1 cup basil leaves
- Put the serranos in a small heat proof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil with the vinegar, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the brine over the serranos and let stand for 15 minutes, until cooled to room temperature. If you are not a huge fan of heat, you can easily omit this ingredient. However, the sweetness from the peaches and the peppery quality of the arugula tastes awesome with the candied Serrano. Another option, you could finely chopped the chiles and add them to the dressing in order to spread the “heat wealth”.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, mustard and 6 tablespoons of the oil. (Here is where you could add the chopped serrano, if you so desire.)
- In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 cup of oil until shimmering. Add the tofu, season with salt, and cook over moderate heat, turning, until crisp, 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel–lined plate. (*Add only enough tofu to the pan so that it can properly brown. Add more oil if needed between batches.)
- Once the tofu has cooled, place the tofu in a large mixing bowl. Add the tomatoes, peaches, arugula, and basil. If you didn’t add the serranos to the dressing, add those in at this time. I added about half of the chiles. I like things spicy, but I want to taste my food as well! I also added some of the serrano brine. The amount of the Ginger Soy Dressing you can add really depends on you. I used about 2 Tablespoons. Gently mix all of the ingredients together. (*The amount of tofu I sautéed may be more than you will need. However, if you have leftovers, add it to a salad the next day for lunch:)
A week earlier I noticed, and clipped, a recipe in the local paper. I used that recipe as a springboard for the salad I made last night using the leftover dressing from the Tomato and Peach Salad with Crisp Tofu (http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/sep/09/get-fresh-cool-ideas-cucumbers/).
Second Night: Megan’s Quick Chilled Shrimp, Cucumber and Soba Noodle Salad
- 6 ounces soba noodles
- 1 pound cooked shrimp (bought uncooked shrimp from Trader Joe’s and sautéed)
- 1½ cups sliced cucumbers
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup (or more) mint
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 3 to 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- sliced serranos left over from the previous evening’s dinner
- Left over dressing from previous evening’s dinner. I used about 2 Tablespoons of dressing, but you can add as much or as little as you like. My husband and I eat large portions, so the recipes above were enough for the 2 of us. If you are cooking for 1, I would still make these portions and then you have lunch for the next day or two.
- Cook soba noodles as directed on the package. If you are like me and buy your shrimp frozen and raw, cook shrimp, let them cool and add to a large salad bowl. If you buy them precooked, just go ahead and add them to the bowl as is. Add cooked and cooled noodles to the bowl. Add cucumbers, carrots, mint, cilantro, scallions, serranos (if you like a little heat), and as much dressing as you like. Mix all ingredients together.
On a final note, even though it feels like a nice Summer day in the Sahara Desert, Fall is quickly approaching. Ever since I became a coffee drinker, I haven’t been able to enjoy what used to be a favorite beverage of mine, Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks. It just tastes too sweet and fake. I had a free beverage coming my way, so I decided to try an Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte (Venti because it was free, of course.) but opted out of the 6 shots of flavor (Can you imagine???), and I requested just one flavor shot. Also, I requested non fat milk and an extra shot of espresso. Perfection. The only problem is that it was probably a $6 drink, so I will have to wait for another freebie before I order another one!
Enjoy the last few days of Summer! Take Care and Happy Eating!
I have a short list of favorite dining establishments. I know if I want pizza, I go to Luigi’s. If I want a great view, I go to Mister A’s (awesome happy hour, by the way). If I want fish tacos, well, that’s still up for debate. Every weekend, the same question arises: Where should we go out to eat tonight? I read about so many new places, and I add the new spots to my list. But when Friday night rolls around, my husband and I usually hit the same old restaurants. Why? Because we know they are good! I hate trying a new place and thinking “Why didn’t we go to Blind Lady for their frites and a pizza?” However, I really do like trying new places, and sometimes I have to force myself out of the rut.
This past weekend, Franz and I got out of our comfort zone and hit places we’ve been wanting to check out. We went to 6 places, and (SPOILER ALERT) we enjoyed every single spot!
First up to bat was a taco truck that I have heard about FOREVER, Mariscos Nine Seas Seafood. More intriguing was that whenever I passed the parking lot for Gala Foods Grocery store, I always saw hoards of people crowding around the truck. I ordered 2 fried fish tacos, and Franz got 2 fried and 1 grilled. There are a few unlabeled self-serve hot sauces, which I greatly appreciated. And unlabeled hot sauces is about as far as I go in adventure seeking, so that was right up my alley. I love the food truck concept, however I’m not a fan of eating in a parking lot. I like the idea of grabbing one or two of these bad boys for a very small amount of money as a way to start my night. It’s what my husband would call an amuse-bouche. Then again, he could call a rack of lamb the same thing.
Right across the street is The South Park Abbey. Again, we always drive by it, but we’ve never taken the time to stop. So batter number two? Another hit. We only had the opportunity to have drinks here, but the food that was coming out of the kitchen looked tasty. The wings seemed to be a big hit. What I love about this place is that it is super dog friendly, has a great view of the outside world passing by and they have a happy hour. I had a Delirium Red in Brussels over the Summer, so I wanted to try it Stateside. It came out a little murky compared to the one (or 2 or 3) I had in Brussels, but it tasted good. This is a place my dog would love, so this will be visited again in the near future.
Next up was Thorn St. Brewery which hit it out of the park (http://thornstreetbrew.com/). I love the vibe of small tasting rooms, and this fit the bill. There is an outdoor area in the back of the building, so in case you feel like enjoying the San Diego weather, there is a spot for you. It’s also dog friendly, so of course I love this place. They don’t serve food, but there was a sausage truck right outside the front door, and Pho Realz was a few steps away, and you can bring food in (http://phorealzsd.com/). Franz and I opted for a taster of the beers. We’ve seen Thorn St.’s beers here and there, but we never knew just how many they brewed. I will note that they quickly sold out of many of their beers while we were there, so I suggest getting there a little early.
It was a tough choice between the two food trucks, but we saw a guy chowing down on a Banh-Mi and that sold us. In addition to the sandwich, we ordered Bun Cha-Cha-Cha which is a delicious cold rice vermicelli dish with BBQ Pork and egg rolls. The Banh-Mi was super spicy, which I love, and it didn’t feel heavy or greasy.
Oh, and that was just Friday! Saturday, we went for a long, and very needed, run in the morning. That also helped us to prepare ourselves for dinner later at Sea180. I’ve wanted to check this place out ever since it opened, but Imperial Beach is a little bit of a haul. We decided to make the journey South, and we were greatly awarded with a spectacular ocean view. We arrived a little early for our reservation, so we took advantage of the Happy Hour that goes until 5pm everyday and had a glass of wine and a Hamachi Poke appetizer while watching the waves from the bar area. We felt like we left our home faraway and went on a tropical vacation.
Sunday was another hot but beautiful day in San Diego, so Franz and I decided to go for a long walk starting at Mission Beach. My real intention was to check out Draft . I have family coming into town next month, and I thought this might be the kind of spot they would enjoy. I was inside this place before it was renovated, and I had no interest in ever going back. Thank God someone changed this to a place that is deserving of the location. It is wide open so that it takes full advantage of the ocean front property. The inside has multiple screens for sports events, and one entire wall was showing video from someone wearing a video camera while skateboarding down the boardwalk. There are almost 70 beers on tap, and many of them are actually good! I associate beach bars with Budweiser and Coors, but Draft had many local brews and even a couple of Belgians. Franz and I split (unheard of for us, just so you know) a Fried Chicken Sandwich. The bun was fresh and tasty, and we loved the pickled onions and cabbage on it. The fries were hot and delicious, and I could have easily had a bucket size portion of them!
It was so nice to get out there and check out some new places, and it was even better that every place was so good. I think we have found a few places that will be added to our “Usual Haunts List”! Have you checked out any new places lately that you would recommend? Let me know! I’d love to hear about them!
I have a lot to fill you guys in on – trips to Amsterdam and Belgium, Cabo, San Francisco, Portland, OR, a big birthday for me, and some really tasty and easy recipes I discovered over the Summer. I can’t wait to share!
Until next time, take care and happy eating!!
The San Diego Food Bloggers are at it again! Several of us were sent another box of goodies from Melissa’s Produce http://www.melissas.com/ . Not sure what I’m talking about? Check out my blog from March 19th, Melissa’s Produce San Diego Food Bloggers Challenge, to read all about this company.
This time I received a box containing several nectarines, 1 Korean Melon, 8 Rhubarb Stalks, a bunch of Fava Beans, Peaches, a Coconut and an opener, and a jar of Hatch Salsa. There was a delay in receiving the shipment due to the local fires and crazy weather, so the timing wasn’t the best for me. And it was about 100 degrees on the Coast. Enough of my moaning. We don’t get to complain often in San Diego, so just humor me. I loved the challenge placed before me! Really, I did!
I knew when I saw the Rhubarb, that was a must. Rhubarb is one of my most favorite things in the world. I made a rhubarb cocktail last year. I really need to do that again!! But back to this challenge! I decided to create a flat bread and top it with rhubarb, nectarines, peaches, and goat cheese. I had never tried a Korean Melon, and I was limited on time, so I opted to set that aside. I wanted something to serve alongside of the flatbread, so I made a Farro Salad with Fava Beans and Tomatoes.
Since I had some goat cheese on hand, I crumbled some more goat cheese into the salad. Why not? If I could get away with goat cheese in my coffee, I would. This flatbread turned out to be so good that my husband and I ate the whole thing in one night. Don’t judge us! You try to stop halfway!!
Thyme To Eat Your Fruit Flatbread!
1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)
1 package active yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2.5 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Several sprigs of fresh thyme (extra to sprinkle on top)
3 Tablespoon olive oil
6 fresh rhubarb stalks, trimmed and chopped
2 nectarines, chopped
3 peaches, chopped
4 oz goat cheese (You can really add however much you like. I could easily add way more.)
Cornmeal for dusting
1) In a small bowl combine water, yeast and sugar. Let stand 10 minutes or until foamy.
2)In a large bowl combine 2 cups of flour and salt. Add yeast mixture, thyme, and 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Stir until combined. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead in additional flour until dough becomes smooth and elastic.
3) Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat. Cover; let rise 30 minutes or until double in size.
4) Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet; sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Set aside. Punch down dough. Roll and shape until the dough is the size of the entire baking sheet. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Gently press the rhubarb, nectarines, and peaches into shaped dough. Top with crumbled goat cheese and sprinkle with extra thyme. With a pastry brush, brush remaining olive oil over the flatbread.
5) Bake 18 minutes or until flatbread is the desired color and the fruit is tender. I turned the broiler on for an additional few minutes to get it a little crisper. Remember to never leave the room and keep an eye on it because broilers can work fast!!
Make sure to check out this link and read what the other Food Bloggers created! And huge THANK YOU goes out to Melissa’s Produce! Once again, you sent a wonderful box of tasty treats!! Thanks again! Take Care and Happy Eating! An InLinkz Link-up
How often do you cook dinner? I usually cook dinner 5 nights a week. That’s a lot of meals. As much as enjoy trying new recipes and making some up, I have those dishes that I always revisit throughout the year. As a kid, my mom’s favorite go-to meals were meatloaf, perch, spaghetti with jarred Ragu, and liver and onions. There was always a half-gallon of milk on the table, and it always had this orange plastic holder with a handle. Why? I’m not sure. Where did my Mom even get that thing? And where did it go?
My go-to meals are salmon (either seared or in cake form), big salads with a ton of stuff in it, good old pasta with a tomato sauce (and I admit, often it is Barilla), and some kind of grain salad, like wheat berry or Farro, with roasted veggies and chicken. But because I cook a lot of meals, I don’t want to get too repetitive, so I look everywhere for new ideas.
I made a meal the other night from an article in the San Diego Union Tribune (http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/Apr/08/Armenian-cookbook-vegan-eggplant-casserole/), and Franz claimed it is one of his favorites. It is so simple to make, it smells awesome, and it is delicious. This will be added to my “go-to” meals without a doubt. The creator of the recipe, Dikranouhi Kirazian, is a local San Diegan who just published Armenian Vegan: A Pure Vegan Cookbook with 200+Recipes Using No Animal Products. I might have come up with a sexier title, but if this recipe is a good example of the rest of her work, I will have to buy this one!
Eggplant Casserole (Any notes in parenthesis, highlighted and in italics are my notes or additions.)
Serves 2 to 4
2 large eggplants
Olive oil (for brushing eggplant)
Salt, pepper and garlic powder, to taste (or any herbs you prefer that can withstand being broiled)
For the sauce
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped (I added more because I love garlic.)
1⁄4 cup olive oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms (I added more because I love mushrooms.)
2 bay leaves
1⁄2 teaspoon oregano
1⁄2 teaspoon dried basil
15-ounce can diced tomatoes
8-ounce can tomato sauce (I had a 15 oz jar of tomato sauce from Trader Joe’s, so I added the whole thing. I like it a little saucy!)
Wash eggplant and cut into 1⁄2-inch-thick round slices. Place slices on a large tray, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder ( I had some Santa Maria seasoning that I wanted to use, so I sprinkled that on them.). Turn slices over and repeat on other side. Put under a broiler preheated to between 350 and 400 degrees (I put my oven to 425 degrees to achieve the necessary browning), and broil both sides until a light golden brown. When done, remove from oven and set aside.(I opted to slice each round in half after broiling. I figured it would be a little easier to eat.)
Prepare the sauce while eggplant is cooking: Chop onions and garlic and sauté for several minutes in small amount of olive oil; then add the rest of the olive oil, mushrooms and all other spices. Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, and stir frequently. Cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, then turn off heat.
Prepare for baking: Pour several spoons of sauce on the bottom of an 11-by-7-inch or 9-by-9-inch casserole dish. Layer the bottom of casserole dish with eggplant slices. Spoon some of the sauce on this layer; then add new layers, spooning sauce over each. Be sure to keep some sauce to pour over top layer.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and bake casserole dish for 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot, as a main dish with rice or any pasta, and with a crunchy baguette. Can also be served cold as an appetizer. (I served this with Barilla’s Linguine.)
Sorry there are no photos. I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t realize how much I would love it, and the leftovers didn’t look very pretty. However, if you go to the UT link noted in the beginning, there is a beautiful photo!
I couldn’t leave you without one image. I found my childhood milk holder!
Take Care and Happy Eating!